MSE News

Water companies forced to cut customer bills from April 2023 - here's what you need to know

Eleven water companies across England and Wales will be forced to cut customer bills by a collective £150 million from April 2023 after they missed targets on issues including pollution, sewerage flooding in homes, and water supply interruptions. It follows a backlash against water firms over practices including discharging raw sewerage into local waterways and coastlines. 

Water regulator Ofwat couldn't tell us exactly how much households will save, as it said bills have yet to be determined for 2023/24. You won't, however, need to do anything as any change will be automatically applied.

Not all water companies will be forced to lower customer bills though, as six suppliers will be allowed to increase how much they charge after exceeding targets in certain areas, such as biodiversity. For full info on what your supplier is doing, see our table below. 

Water bills work differently in Scotland, while there's no domestic charge in Northern Ireland. See our Cutting water bills guide for more info and help on how to slash your water and sewerage bills.

How much your bills will change by depends on your supplier

Below is a table of the total penalties or rewards applied to each water company that will then be passed on to households:

The total amount water providers will increase or decrease water bills by from April 2023

Water supplier Total amount to be cut or added to customer bills from April 2023

Affinity Water

Decrease by £0.8 million

Anglian Water

Decrease by £8.5 million

Bristol Water

Increase by £0.6 million

Dŵr Cymru

Decrease by £8 million

Hafren Dyfrdwy

Decrease by £0.4 million

Northumbrian Water

Decrease by £20.3 million

Portsmouth Water

Increase by £0.8 million

SES Water

Decrease by £0.3 million

Severn Trent Water

Increase by £62.9 million

South East Water

Decrease by £3.2 million

South Staffs Water

Increase by £3 million

South West Water

Decrease by £13.3 million

Southern Water

Decrease by £28.3 million

Thames Water

Decrease by £51 million

United Utilities

Increase by £24.1 million

Wessex Water

Increase by £4.4 million

Yorkshire Water

Decrease by £15.2 million

Water companies told to create new ideas that make bills more affordable

Separately, the water regulator launched a consultation on 22 September proposing significant changes to the way people are charged for their water bills - in a bid to make bills more affordable for struggling customers.

The consultation sets out changes that would encourage water companies to bill their customers more fairly, for example by introducing seasonal charging to help lower water bills during the winter when energy bills are higher, or lowering bills for homes with water butts.

Similarly, households that use a lot of water, for example those with swimming pools, hot tubs or large-scale sprinkler systems, could be charged a premium for very high use, particularly at times when water is scarce.

You can read the full consultation, which closes on 3 November.

You can save money on your water bill by getting a meter

Households are locked into using the water and sewerage company that supplies their area - you can't switch as you would do so with energy and broadband.

Despite this, there are still ways to save - some could save hundreds by switching to a free water meter, for example, rather than paying a fixed bill. See our Cut your water bills guide for more info. To get a water meter installed, head to your provider's website and see if you can apply – you'll usually need to fill in an application form – or give it a call and ask.

If you can't get a water meter, you can ask for an "assessed charge bill". This is worked out on details, such as how many people live in your home, but varies from company to company.

If you already have a water meter, double check your direct debit to make sure your usage is correct and you aren't overpaying. 

Also make sure to check you're not paying for charges, such as surface water, if your house isn't connected to the public sewer - see our MSE News story for how to check and challenge your bills.

If you're having trouble paying your water bill and have fallen into debt, contact your water company to see what help it can offer. All companies offer some kind of support – this can be anything from providing repayment plans, discounts or even a cap on how much you pay.

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